Poor appetite in children of the first year of life: what is wrong and how to fix it?

Poor appetite in children of the first year of life: what is wrong and how to fix it?

24.05.2022 0 By admin

All children are born with a good appetite. And you need to save it at any cost.

(B. Spock)

A good appetite is traditionally considered an indicator of health, as well as a necessary condition under which the baby grows normally and develops properly. It is not surprising that the lack of appetite in a child often becomes a reason for parental frustration. Before you begin to “do something urgently”, it is important to understand the true reason for the infant’s refusal to eat .

What exactly in the behavior of the child can alert you :

  • the baby refuses the breast or (bottles with the mixture);
  • eats less than the prescribed norm;
  • breastfeeds but does not suckle, does not swallow, or suckles very little;
  • when the mother tries to breastfeed, the baby screams and resists;
  • after a short sucking breaks away from the chest, choking with crying;
  • takes one breast but refuses other .

What could be the reasons for what is happening?

1. The special structure of the maternal nipple (flat, inverted nipple)

The “uncomfortable” shape of the nipple often causes poor appetite and breast rejection. It is difficult for a baby to keep a breast with an inverted or flat nipple in his mouth, so be prepared to show patience and perseverance in the first days after birth.

At first, you will need to support the baby’s head and form a fold on the chest parallel to the mouth, so that it is easier to grab it. It is best to have the help of a lactation consultant or an experienced midwife with the correct attachment of the baby. Can solve the problem and feeding in the position “from under the arm.”

The main thing to remember is that almost any breast can be “resorbed” in the first two or three weeks of feeding, and the nipples will remain more prominent than before!

2. Violation of feeding technique (incorrect position of the baby at the breast).

How to breastfeed? The baby must be turned with the tummy towards you, so that the head and body are on the same line. If the baby took the breast well, it is deep in the mouth, deeper from below than from above, the nipple looks into the sky. The baby’s lower jaw rhythmically presses on the areola, the sponge is turned outward, and the tongue makes wave-like movements, helping to move milk from the breast to the mouth. A correctly attached baby rests on his mother’s chest with his chin, and the nose, depending on the shape of the breast, can either be completely free or touch the chest.

3. Violation of the organization of feeding

What mistakes can a nursing mother make:

  • too often changes the breast, as a result of which the child gets used to sucking out only the thinner “front” milk, which goes “at high tide”;
  • upon refusal of the breast, he immediately offers a bottle, where the flow of milk is constant, which also weaned the child from making his own efforts to “get food”;
  • does not take into account the possibility of the onset of natural lactation crises, which usually occur at 3-6 weeks and 3, 4, 7, 8 months of a baby’s life and last 3-4 days.

Always start feeding from the same breast from which the previous one ended, and offer a full breast only when the baby has taken all that was. If the baby becomes angry, not wanting to suck without a flush , try squeezing the breast at the base a few times to help the “arrival” of milk. And if the baby has already come off the breast and began to arch, change the position: feeding in the “under the arm” position usually calms babies.

With a lactation crisis – put the baby to the breast more often in combination with feeding from both breasts, keep calm, drink more. Especially welcome is a warm drink in the form of infusions of lactogenic herbs 15-20 minutes before feeding. You can also take special lactogonal drugs (for example, Mlekoin, Apilak) after consulting a doctor.

4. Improper introduction of complementary foods

Many parents are faced with the fact that with the introduction of complementary foods and further expansion of the diet, children from 6 to 12 months refuse food. In fact, this is a natural situation, because babies are conservative in food by nature.

It is believed that a child needs to try a new food 8-10 times to get used to it, and a positive perception of a new product occurs only 15-20 times!

“Do not follow the lead” of a little gourmet, offering him monotonous food – the one to which he is already accustomed. It is possible to increase the appetite of the baby with the help of a varied diet. If the initial food withdrawal is interpreted as permanent and no longer offered, the ability to access new foods and taste experiences will be lost. The main thing is that children learn to enjoy food, and this they need to be consistently and patiently taught.

5. Teething

The appearance of the first teeth often causes significant discomfort to the baby and can lead to a decrease in appetite. This is a normal (physiological) process that will eventually resolve itself.

6. Force-feeding and over-feeding

This is a fairly typical mistake in both breastfeeding and artificial feeding, which leads not only to a deterioration in appetite, but also to digestive disorders.

Remember that excessive breastfeeding leads to overfeeding! Adhere to the rules of free feeding, trying to feed the baby with an interval of at least 2.5-3 hours (as they grow older, the interval between breastfeeding increases to 4 hours). Offer only one breast per feeding and try to limit the time of one “meal” to 15-20 minutes.

When formula feeding : following the instructions on the bottle of formula and measuring portions of the mixture, do not forget to take into account the physiological needs of the child. If he begins to regularly turn away from the bottle, do not try to feed him every time “every last drop.” Overfeeding can lead to constipation, so carefully monitor the dynamics of weight gain crumbs and regulate single and daily volumes of food.

7. Low physical activity

Tight swaddling, rare massage procedures, gymnastics, bathing, swimming (as well as their complete absence), rare walks can also cause a decrease in appetite in infants. Make sure your baby gets enough physical activity if you want him to eat well!

8. Pain in the tummy

Abdominal pain affecting appetite in children under one year of age most often occurs due to:

  • swallowing air while breastfeeding
  • with intolerance to breast milk carbohydrates (lactase deficiency),
  • against the background of stool disorders (constipation).


Intestinal colic does not cause a decrease in appetite.

For the prevention of “gas”: after each feeding, keep the baby in an upright position for at least 15-20 minutes until the audible burp passes. If the baby begins to refuse the breast and becomes anxious immediately after the start of feeding, stop feeding and hold him in an upright position for 5-10 minutes (walk around the room, putting the baby on your shoulder with your tummy down).

To exclude lactase deficiency , be sure to consult a pediatrician. As a rule, feeding with special mixtures devoid of lactose (milk protein) and / or taking special enzymatic preparations helps to restore normal appetite with this problem.

You can prevent constipation in infants by correcting the diet of a nursing mother, the diet and following the rules for introducing complementary foods.

REMEMBER that the healthiest and most correct attitude to food is in newborns and infants. Eliminate possible feeding mistakes, and let your baby eat correctly, with benefit and appetite!


1. Denisov M.Yu. Diseases of the digestive system in young children. – M ..: LLC “Medical Information Agency”, 2010. – 304 p. – P.43, 122-123, 136-137.

2. Satter E. Feeding and nutrition of a child from 0 to 5 years old with love and common sense. Handbook for parents. M.: Martin, 2012. – 384 p. – P.61, 218, 238.

3. Madeleine Denis. We eat with gusto! Tips and tricks for every day. M.: Klever-Media-Group, 2013. – 192 p. – P.54-55.